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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Union fee vote to begin today

    Students can vote online today and tomorrow on whether to pass a $40 mandatory union fee that, starting next year, would be a permanent addition to every future student’s tuition.

    If the fee is approved, an extra $20 a year would be tacked onto a student’s tuition in 2007. The fee would increase by $10 each year until 2009, when it would reach the maximum $40, said Dan Adams, director of the Arizona Student Unions.

    The fee would apply to all undergraduate, graduate and professional students and would eventually generate $1.4 million to give programs more funding, repair and renovate buildings, extend service hours and abilities, and rebuild the union’s shrinking reserve fund.

    At a public forum yesterday, students questioned the merits of the fee and how the money generated would benefit every student equally, even those not involved with clubs or campus organizations.

    “”How much money will go toward enhancing diversity?”” asked Michelle Miller, a black business marketing senior, who said out of her minority friends who first came to the UA, she’s the only one who has stayed.

    Out of the $700,000 generated from the fee in 2007, $15,000 would be slated to enhance diversity programs on campus, according to the proposed budget.

    “”This could fund more diversity programs that help people feel connected to the UA,”” said Bridgette Gallagher, a fee advocate and president of the University Activities Board. “”I think programs and social events that are free have a huge connection with retention.””

    Even though diversity programming would receive money from the fee, other groups receive much more, which compromises whether the benefits are equal for all students, said Brad Burns, university relations director for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

    Burns, whose opinion does not represent ASUA, said he is concerned the fee would not be distributed properly.

    If passed, half of the fee dollars would go toward building maintenance and renewal and service enhancements, like upgrading computers, extending business hours and purchasing plasma TVs for club advertising.

    The remaining half would fund individual programs, out of which the lowest recipients include support for commuter and graduate students and student-parents, each group receiving $10,000.

    Areas like club funding would receive $37,500 and another $75,000 would go toward funding four free concerts in the year, according to the budget.

    “”It’s taking money from everyone to provide what a narrow band of students want,”” said Burns, a political science sophomore.

    Gallagher, a political science senior, said if the fee is passed and students feel the money is not being distributed appropriately, the Student Union Fee Committee has the power to change how much groups are allocated.

    The 11-member committee would comprise students from different areas on campus and would be responsible for auditing and allocating fee dollars each year.

    “”The committee will evaluate each year how the money is being spent, and the members can ask themselves, ‘Does one area need more than another?'”” Gallagher said.

    Erin Hertzog, acting student body president, said she is concerned about what message will be sent to students and administrators if the fee is passed, considering that a portion of the money will be used to make up for the union’s deficit and building renewal projects.

    “”If students are going to be taxed, they should not be bearing the burden of building renewal,”” said Hertzog, a journalism senior. “”My fear is that if the fee is passed, other auxiliaries on campus will feel a fee is an easy way to make up for a deficit, so long as they say students will benefit somehow.””

    Students can vote on the fee today and tomorrow by logging onto http://web.asua.arizona.edu/~asua/index.htm.

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